Jake Perry reports
Carlton 126 for 3 (R Willis 60, F Gardee 2 for 6) beat McRea West of Scotland 85-7 (R Hawkins 34, G Henderson 2 for 14) by 41 runs
Carlton claimed the Beyond Boundaries Women’s Scottish Cup after an imposing all-round display in the Final against McRea West of Scotland. A magnificent partnership of 106 between Ruth Willis and Abbi Aitken-Drummond, backed by two wickets each for Samantha Haggo and Georgia Henderson, was enough to take their team to a comfortable 41-run victory in Stirling.
Carlton had begun the day by posting 180 for 3 in their 136-run Semi-Final win over George Watson’s College, but on the expansive lower pitch at New Williamfield runs initially proved harder to come by. West of Scotland opening bowlers Rachel Hawkins and Faatima Gardee conceded only 10 between them from the first three overs, and when Heather Tait (7) was bowled by Gardee off the second ball of the fourth, Carlton, at 10 for 1, were in need of a foothold on the game.
It came via the experienced Scotland pair of Aitken-Drummond and Willis. Although the deep-set boundary and slow outfield made the rope difficult to find in the early stages of the innings – a terrific lofted drive over the top from Aitken-Drummond providing a notable exception – the two set about building the total with a fine display of running between the wickets.
Willis, fresh from her unbeaten 80 in the Semi-Final, was in excellent touch again as she raced past 30 in a combination of twos and threes, while Aitken-Drummond began to find the boundary with more regularity, bringing up the fifty partnership with a towering six over deep backward square off the last ball of the tenth. With Carlton 63 for 1, it was now West of Scotland who were feeling the pressure.
Still the runs came, and in the 15th over Willis brought up her second half-century of the day with a crunching drive to the rope past mid-off. Both perished before the end – Willis (60) lbw to Maryam Faisal (1 for 7) and Aitken-Drummond (41) was bowled – but Carlton’s closing total of 126 for 3 looked above par nevertheless.
Not that West of Scotland had been left without hope. A half-century from Rachel Hawkins had proved the difference in their Semi-Final win over Stirling County, and the Scotland all-rounder was fast out of the blocks again as she took 12 from the first over. Three quick wickets in the third and fourth put the batting side on their heels, however, and when Hawkins herself fell, caught by Heather Tait off the bowling of Georgia Henderson for 34, it struck a blow from which they would never recover.
The West’s remaining batters fought hard, Maryam Faisal leading the way with a battling 14, but victory was confirmed to give the Edinburgh side victory in the showpiece knock-out event for the third time in their history.
“I’m just delighted for everyone in the team to be honest,” said winning captain Ruth Willis. “It’s been a really hard season, much of which has been played without our Scotland players, and it’s so pleasing to see the team come through and do well.”
“It’s a real testament to the hard work that our coach Caleb Whitefoord and interim captain Ellie Hird have put in throughout the year, and a huge part of our victory today is down to them. It’s fantastic for the girls and you can see how delighted they are.”
In the Third Place Play-Off, Becky Glen’s 41 and an unbeaten 37 from Lois Wilkinson helped Stirling County chase down 124 against George Watson’s College with more than four overs to spare to add the finishing touches to a day which was a tremendous advertisement for women’s cricket in Scotland.
Jake Perry is a cricket writer based in Scotland.